The ACTU is seeking up to five days paid leave so that workers can care for frail or elderly family members as part of a broader push to address the pressures of an ageing population.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“The ACTU is set to press ahead with demands for new employee rights to take paid leave to help care for family members as part of its ‘Work and Family’ test case before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.”

“Balancing work and family is more than just allowing parents to care for young children, it is also about helping families care for elderly parents and relatives.”

“A recent ABS survey found that only a third of caring activity concerned the care of the person’s own children. As the population ages there will be more and more need for workplaces to adapt so that families can help care for elderly parents and relatives.”

“The ACTU is seeking new family-friendly standards in a range of industrial awards. These include:

  • A claim for five days’ leave to care specifically for sick or needy
    relatives to complement existing sick leave entitlements.
  • Allowing employees to vary their roster schedules or place of work.
  • The ability of workers to ‘buy’ up to six weeks extra annual leave so they
    can care for ageing relatives.”
  • “As the population ages, elder care will become as big an issue as child care.”

    “The Howard Government is putting pressure on people to work until they drop but is not prepared to help people continue working into older age by promoting new industrial standards.”

    “The Government instead proposes to encourage changes to potentially millions of individual agreements between workers and their employers. This is so inefficient it is absurd.”

    “There are a few far-sighted employers willing to implement more family-friendly policies but too many others will only respond if changes are made to industrial awards.”

    “Company profits are at a record high in Australia and there is little excuse for employers not to allow greater flexibility and more choice for people trying to balance work and family pressures.”